Alvaro Bautista and Suzuki were holding a podium position for six laps of Sunday's Japanese MotoGP.
Sixth at the end of lap one, the Spaniard moved into third after incidents and penalties ahead of him.
“I didn't get a good start because some riders jump-started and I was a bit confused by them and when the red light went off I was little bit late. There was a crash on the second corner and I then found myself in a good position," explained Bautista.
"A few laps later some riders entered the pits because they did a jump start and I was then in third, but I knew it was not my real position!"
Bautista kept the prized rostrum position until lap 12, of 24, when early race leader Casey Stoner moved back ahead of him.
By that stage another Repsol Honda rider, Andrea Dovizioso, was also closing in after serving a ride-through penalty - and Bautista pushed his GSV-R a little too hard in his efforts to stay ahead, suffering a fast fall on lap 14.
"When Casey went past me and I saw what the distance was between me and Andrea - who was the next rider - and how many laps were left, I tried to follow Casey and keep the gap to Andrea," said Bautista.
"Near the last corner I lost the front and crashed and that was the end of the race for me. We worked very hard this weekend and improved in all the sessions, and in the race we were in a good position. Today the luck was just not with us!
“I am sorry for the whole team because this result would have meant so much to them, and I'm sorry for Suzuki at its home grand prix because we wanted to make a good race and a positive result."
Fourth place would have been Bautista's best ever MotoGP finish and the best result for a Suzuki MotoGP rider since 2008.
“When your rider crashes out of fourth position at Suzuki's home grand prix it can only be described as disappointing!" said team manager Paul Denning. "However, we have to take the positives from this weekend - the GSV-R performed well in cold and overcast conditions, Álvaro achieved his equal best qualifying and we were running very strongly in the race itself.
“Alvaro's not stupid and with just over 10 laps to go, and Dovizioso only seven seconds behind, he knew he had to push hard to keep fourth place - fifth or sixth wasn't going to do it as far as he was concerned. That's racing; it was a high-speed crash and Álvaro's completely uninjured, so let's move on and look forward to the next grand prix.”